USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, Inc.

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Special Interest:

A Vision for Saratoga

The USS Saratoga - the centerpiece of the Air/Land/Sea Historic ParkThe USS Saratoga Museum, the centerpiece of the museum consortium in the Air/Land/Sea Historic Park, will enable the public to experience first hand the contribution and sacrifice made by the sailors of all aircraft carriers from the HMS Ark Royal in 1914 to the present day. It will also provide an opportunity to view the development of aircraft, aircraft weapon systems, communication and other technical advancement made by American industry.

Externally, Saratoga will be presented as closely as possible to her operational appearance. Radars, deck markings, insignia, signal flags, and even the typical sounds will be faithfully recreated, to heighten the visitor's sense of stepping onto an operational carrier. The Museum will acquire and restore many of the aircraft typical of USS Saratoga's multigenerational air wings for static display, both on the Flight Deck and in her Hangar Bay, to enhance the vessel's sense of realism.

Internally, many of the ship's spaces will be restored to give visitors an interactive adventure in the floating city she once was. At the heart of the vessel are the Combat Direction Center (also known as the Combat Information Center, or CIC), and its adjacent command and control areas. Directly above, visitors will explore the towering Island structure, with its restored Flag and Navigation bridges, Captain's At-Sea Cabin and Primary Flight Control. Below the Flight Deck level, Crew's Berthing and Mess, Officers' Wardrooms, Hospital and Dental suites, Foc'sle and Squadron Ready Rooms will also be restored to operational condition.

Over time, selected engineering spaces will be opened for visitors to explore. In all, Saratoga's restoration loop will show visitors, in microcosm, how more than 5,000 sailors, marines and air crew worked and lived in this floating city. Below the main deck there will be special presentations on a number of historical, scientific and naval topics. Artifacts, maps, illustrations and video presentations will introduce visitors to the traditions, the technologies and the modern missions of the U.S. Navy and other organizations.

All exhibits will be vividly interpretational, offering visitors an appreciation both for life at sea as well as the technological marvels of this particular vessel. A portion of the ship's berthing area will be offered for overnight youth excursions. Her extensive machine shops and main engine spaces will become laboratories for educational and vocational training experiences. The Museum will take every advantage of the unique architecture the Saratoga provides. Meeting rooms, dining, entertainment facilities, and school complex facilities will be located throughout the ship.

The USS Saratoga - the centerpiece of the Air/Land/Sea Historic ParkOn the Flight Deck the visitor will observe activities ranging from outdoor exhibits to large-scale entertainment events and even sports exhibitions. As the renaissance of Providence helps develop the infrastructure and transportation networks of Narragansett Bay, the Saratoga and other Park attractions should improve the economic viability of an active ferry service linking both Providence and Newport. This ferry service could become an important tourist attraction in its own right, as is the Circle Line in New York adjacent the Intrepid Museum. The Saratoga is envisioned not only as an inspiring American icon, but as a vibrant, living structure housing and preserving the memory of men and machinery that kept America out of harm's way for nearly 40 years.


USS Saratoga Museum's broad mission speaks to a diverse set of audiences. The museum will be designed to provide each visitor with maximum access to the vessel, while still serving the specific needs of various audience groups.

The museum's market can be divided into five segments:

  • General Public/Tourist
  • Trade/Commercial
  • Private Groups
  • Official Functions
  • Education and Training

Operationally, audiences will be segregated only for limited participation events, such as trade-only shows, professional conferences, school activities and special entertainment events.

General Public/Tourist

A tour group in a flight exhibit areaBy far the largest market segment, this audience consists of individuals, families, and tour groups who will come primarily for Saratoga's cultural, historic and entertainment aspects: the restored carrier, the permanent and touring exhibits, the theater presentations, the outdoor activities and special events. The general public audience consists primarily of local residents, tourists visiting Rhode Island and pass-through travelers who decide to visit the facility. The local area has a significant active and retired Navy presence, which will also visit the museum. As international markets are more clearly defined, language capabilities for overseas visitors will be made available.


With approximately 20,000 ft of flexible (undedicated) exhibit space aboard Saratoga, the museum represents a significant venue for small tradeshows and similar events. Trade/commercial attendees will, of course, have access to all areas of the complex. Because of shipping, registration, meeting and other requirements, this audience will have access to separate entry facilities.

Private Groups

The various facilities available throughout the Saratoga will provide private organizations a uniquely attractive venue for special events. These include military reunions, sponsor dinners, charity balls, member receptions, fundraising fetes, formal dances, marketing events and location shooting for feature films and advertising. This audience will strongly represent Saratoga's corporate sponsors and will offer an opportunity for the museum to attract additional corporate sponsors.

Official Functions

As a Ceremonial Ship, USS Saratoga can carry on the tradition and legacy of Fleet Week, and the image of Rhode Island as the birthplace of the United States Navy. In this role, organizers plan to conduct special events on national and patriotic holidays, including 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and of course V-J Day--still a holiday only in Rhode Island. The carrier will be an ideal location for enlistment and re-enlistment ceremonies, military weddings, award ceremonies and retirements.

Education & Training

Ships and planes can excite young minds. They inspire questions such as "How do boats float?" and "How do planes fly?" This Park plans to commit significant resources to programs and equipment to help future generations understand the answers to those questions, and better understand history, math and the physical sciences. At other major aviation and naval museums which sponsor strong educational experiences, there are as many as 500 students per day on class field trips to the museum during the school year. Those facilities that offer state-of-the-art technology and make the experience fun generate even larger family numbers during the summer.

The carrier will also sponsor youth activities such as Young Marines, Sea Scouts and similar organizations. Another group under this heading are those involved in vocational and other job-related training programs. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, sports leagues and other groups will be invited to experience life aboard a modern aircraft carrier. A camping program for such organized youth groups is a very popular (and profitable) program at each of the other carrier museums.

Each vessel accommodates between 300 and 600 students for an overnight experience in the berthing compartments. Saratoga will be uniquely suited to attract youth groups for one and two-night overnight adventure packages. Fascinating one or two-night programs will offer a memorable educational and fun-filled experience. Up to 500 berths will be provided. Separate marketing and logistical considerations will be implemented for this audience.

The Carrier Tour

The Saratoga Museum Historical Walk

Visitors may walk to the base of the carrier pier from other attractions in the park (it's about 700 yards from the Air Museum maintenance hangar). A continual tram service will also shuttle guests from the main parking lots by the old Seaplane Hangar #1. Tour buses and private cars may also drop visitors off at the entrance to the pier.

A visitor's first impression of the USS Saratoga Museum will be the admission center and gift shop esplanade, located in the former rescue vessel boathouse at the base of the carrier pier. Tours begin at the covered historical walkway that connects the admission center to the boarding ramp at the forward aircraft elevator on the starboard side of the carrier, about 25 feet above pier level.

The history of the USS Saratoga will be commemorated along this interpretive walkway. Each segment will represent a year in history, starting in 1955 when Saratoga was christened at the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard in New York and ending in 1994 when she was decommissioned at the Mayport Naval Station. Saratoga's 23 deployments to the four corners of the world will be chronologically documented and explained on adjacent bronze markers.

Military hardware appropriate to the occasion or era will be on display next to the walk. Information about the men, aircraft and significant events will be highlighted. A special tribute will be made to the more than 100 men who gave their lives for their country while serving aboard Saratoga. Historically significant events in which Saratoga participated will be evident along the walk. The visitor will read about Sara's contributions in the Vietnam conflict, the capture of the murderous Achille Lauro hijackers, retribution airstrikes against terrorist training camps and her role in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Set in the walkway will be engraved commemorative paving bricks, which will initially be reserved for purchase by those who served aboard either carrier Saratoga (CV-3 or CV-60) and their families. The name and logo of each corporate sponsor will be clearly displayed on a bronze marker set in the walkway.

Immediately inside the hangar deck entrance will be U.S. Navy Hall, where visitors will begin their adventure by entering the Carrier Operations Theater. Guests will enter the world of the modern "super carrier" through a dynamic 15-minute film placing them in the middle of the busy flight deck of the USS Saratoga, and in the cockpit of a supersonic F18 Hornet for takeoff and landing. Uniformed, trained guides will conduct regularly scheduled tours for these who wish to follow a set itinerary. Otherwise, visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours, using complimentary maps and area descriptions. Self-guided audiocassettes will be available for rental.

Among the areas to be accessible to the public will be:

Hangar Deck:

The immense Hangar Deck consists of three huge bays totaling about 75,000 square feet of display area, or more than two acres. It can house more than 80 planes. These bays will be divided into sections, each focusing on different areas of naval and aviation history, marine sciences and space exploration. Highlight of the Hangar Deck displays will be rare and valuable prewar, World War II and Korean-era carrier-based aircraft. These will be displayed in realistic dioramas with interactive videos.

The maritime science presentations will present a hands-on approach to learning about the wonders of the sea. Featuring interactive displays, the enormous Hangar Deck will keep visitors occupied for hours. It will be a wonderland of aerospace and maritime exhibits and fun-filled entertainment. A flight simulator ride, similar to Disneyland's Star Tours, will accommodate 20 persons at one time and will simulate flight experiences, such as one-on-one "dog fights".

Virtual flying with a virtual hang gliderVirtual reality simulators will excite visitors with the sensation of flying a full 360 degree pattern over Narragansett Bay, and attempting the harrowing carrier landing. For those more comfortable with tranquility than power and speed, similar virtual flights will be available by hang glider.

At the heart of the displays and exhibitry will be the Saratoga Legacy Hall, a step back in time, beyond the stark realism of the Gulf War to the early days of our country's history when the first of six ships to proudly bear the name USS Saratoga was commissioned. Less than three years after Americans repulsed the invading British at the Battle of Saratoga, the first fighting ship bearing that name put to sea. That was in 1780, when the first Saratoga captured Royal Navy prizes off the Delaware Capes. Five of the six Saratogas saw battle, and many had linkages to Rhode Island. The Naval War College Museum has photographs of the 1880s Saratoga anchored in Newport harbor. In January, 1928, the Navy dirigible Los Angeles (ZR-3) made the first landing of a lighter-than-air ship on a carrier, transferring passengers while taking on fuel and supplies off Newport.

Other permanent exhibits will feature the history of the various ships named USS Rhode Island, the operational history of the three other Forrestal-class carriers, and carrier aviation history relating to Rhode Island, with a section on all carriers ever based at or operating from Quonset Point. Other elements designed to reinforce both educational and entertainment objectives include a 200-plus seat theater that will provide continuous film showings, and several minitheaters, with seats or benches for 3050 visitors, featuring short programs about specific topics related to naval history. Temporary exhibits will include those traveling from other museums. Exhibits in the initial planning stages include:

  • The Rhode Island astronauts;
  • The life of a POW;
  • Atlantic Fleet activities during the Cold War;
  • USS Saratoga and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Flight and Angle Deck:

Walking along the 1067-foot landing deck, complete with aircraft, steam catapults, arresting gear, fire engine, landing lights, colorful deck markings, aircraft tugs, flight deck crane, port and starboard aircraft elevators and gun mounts is guaranteed to be an awe inspiring experience. The aircraft displayed on the flight deck will be more modern carrier-based planes. The Flight Deck is 252 feet across at its widest point. The entire deck covers a total area of approximately four acres. It is wide enough to sit both the SS United States and the SS America side by side on the deck; it is also as wide as a World War I destroyer was long. An as-yet-to-be-named restaurant will be established on the fantail (stern) of the carrier, providing spectacular views of the Bay and the Jamestown Bridge. The flight deck will also offer a fantastic viewing stage for air shows and such Narragansett Bay events as boat races and holiday fireworks.

The Island and Command Bridges:

From the Hangar Deck, the Island rises seventeen decks. Visitors will walk through the Flight Bridge and Navigation Bridge to see how the carrier was controlled, as well as through the Air Bridge where air traffic was directed. The 124-foot mast, with radar and antennas, flight deck lights and colorful flags and markings, sits atop the Island.

Below Decks:

The Foc'sle, Captain's and Admiral's Quarters, Crew Berthing Area, Mess Hall, and Pilot Ready Rooms will provide a fascinating look at life on board the carrier. Visitors to the Combat Information Center (CIC, heart of the carrier during combat), will be able to participate in a "simulated experience" in which they will be able to make split-second battlefield decisions. The carrier's machine shops will also be opened on a limited basis for teachers and students involved in vocational and job training programs. With time and proper funds, many other areas of the Saratoga will become accessible to the public, including Damage Control and the massive Engine/Boiler rooms. As time and capital improvement funding allows, elevators that journey into the ship's interior spaces and provide views of otherwise inaccessible areas will be designed for both the able-bodied and handicapped.

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